Category: Real Estate

Ask Your Real Estate Agent

Maui real estate
In today’s market, you need a real estate agent who can get creative, play hardball in negotiations, and help you stand out from the pack in a bidding war. And not everyone, even an agent recommended to you by a friend or loved one, is up to the task. Want to make sure you’re getting the best real estate agent possible for your home purchase? Then interview at least a few before signing on with one and be sure to ask these questions when you do.

How many other clients are you representing right now?

In today’s high-demand market, this question is critical. You need to know: 1) how many of your potential competitors your agent is representing and 2) how much time and bandwidth they actually have for you and your needs. Choosing a real estate agent who already has 10 buyers and five sellers probably doesn’t bode well for your home search.

Do I have to sign a contract?

You should also find out what the agent’s contract looks like. If you use them and are unhappy with their services, can you switch agents? How long are you locked into their services? In today’s market, this is critical. You don’t want to miss out on record-low mortgage rates just because your real estate agent is not doing the legwork.

What’s your communication style?

You need an agent who jives with your own communication style. If you prefer text or email and your agent is more of a phone or face-to-face kind of person, you’re probably going to find yourself pretty annoyed down the road (and your agent might feel the same). Before getting too far with an agent, always talk about their preferred style of communication, as well as yours. Make sure you’re both on the same page from the start.

In today’s market, the right agent can mean the difference between finding a home and sitting on the sidelines, so choose carefully. Do your research, ask questions, and check reviews and references. Putting in the time now will more than pay off in the long run.

What Is Your Family’s Ideal Home Size?

Maui real estate
The choice to purchase a new home is a major decision for anyone. Once you’ve settled that you do want to buy a home, there are many more options you’ll have to face; one of the most important is the ideal size of a home to best fit your family and lifestyle. Here are some tips so that you can choose the right size home to meet your needs:

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

You may initially start your home search thinking that size doesn’t really matter. As long as it seems big enough to live in, you don’t care how large it actually ends up being. The truth is that bigger isn’t always better. A large home requires more money—and time—to maintain. Unless you’re using the space, you could just end up wasting your money on maintaining a big house for no reason.

Budget For Maintenance

A crucial aspect of your home purchase decision is to determine what your budget is going to be for home maintenance. A bigger home requires more time and money to take care of, particularly if you’re looking at homes with substantial front and backyards. As for the interior, there are cleaning, repair and energy costs for heating and cooling. Discuss your budget with your partner and your real estate agent to decide the square footage you can realistically handle.

Look At All Sizes

Once you get an idea of the size range that will fit your needs, it’s time to take some tours. Search for homes that are in the appropriate size range that you determined. This isn’t so much about evaluating potential purchases as it is about determining if that size range will fit what you have in mind. Home tours will give you a better idea of what you want the square footage of your home to be and how you want those square feet distributed throughout the bedrooms, common areas and exterior.

Narrowing down the ideal size of home for your needs will dramatically help in your search. There are of course several other factors to consider when purchasing your next home, but next to price and location, size is right up there among the most important.

Don’t Wait For Spring To Make A Move

Maui real estate

The housing market boom during the first part of 2021 has been nothing short of remarkable. Many experts agree the turnaround from the nation’s economic pause is playing out extremely well for real estate, and the current market conditions are truly making this an ideal time to make a move. Here are some of the biggest wins for Maui homebuyers this season.

Historically Low Rates

In 2020, mortgage rates hit all-time lows 16 times. Continued low rates have set buyers up for significant long-term gains. Essentially, it’s less expensive to borrow money for a home loan today than it has been in years past. Although mortgage rates are expected to remain relatively low in 2021, even the slightest increase can make a big difference in your payments over the lifetime of a home loan. So, this is a huge opportunity to capitalize on right now before mortgage rates start to rise.

Home Equity Is On The Rise

According to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity, and 42.1% of all homes in this country are owned free and clear. In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity homeowners gained since last year is $17,000. That’s a tremendous amount of forced savings for homeowners, and an opportunity to use this increasing equity to make a move into a home that fits your changing needs this season.

Home’s Are Appreciating

According to leading experts, home prices are forecasted to continue appreciating. Today, many experts are projecting more moderate home price growth than last year, but still moving in an upward direction through 2021. Knowing home values are increasing while mortgage rates are so low should help you feel confident that buying a home before prices rise even higher is a strong long-term investment.

Supply Is Down

With today’s low inventory of homes on the market, which is contributing to this home price appreciation, sellers are in the driver’s seat. The competition is high among buyers, so homes are selling quickly. Making a move while so many buyers are looking for homes to purchase may mean your house rises to the top of the buyer pool. Selling your Maui house before more listings come to the market in the traditionally busy spring market might be your best chance to shine.

Second Home vs. Investment Property

Maui investment property

Second home, investment property, vacation home, rental property…..Is there any real difference among them?

There are actually some very big differences between second homes and investment properties, especially if you are obtaining financing for one.

Second Home

A second home is just that: a second property where you and your family spend time, away from your primary home. You might also hear a second home referred to as a vacation property. You may rent it out for a few days each year, but you primarily use it yourself. Buying a second home makes financial sense if there’s one particular vacation spot you visit regularly. Why spend a fortune on hotels when you can own property that will hopefully appreciate in value over time?

Investment Property

An investment property, on the other hand, is one that you purchase with the explicit intention of generating income. The investment property could be right next door to your own home, or it could be in another state—it doesn’t really matter. You’ll be playing the role of landlord, with long-term or short-term renters paying cash to stay in the home. Before making an offer on an investment property, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a solid investment. Similarly, consider what factors will be important to prospective tenants…access to public transportation, good schools, parking, and low crime rates.

Why it’s important to not confuse the two

It’s important that you’re totally clear about the difference and not use the terms “second home” and “investment property” interchangeably. Some people try to pass off their investment property as a second home to get more favorable financing, but you should never do this. If you lie on your loan application, you could be committing mortgage fraud, which is a federal offense.

Your lender’s underwriting team is aware of this possibility, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes. A single-family residence by a lake that is located in a completely different state from the borrower’s primary residence is much more acceptable to be categorized as a second home by a bank underwriter. A multifamily-unit property with rental income in an urban area is likely to be treated as an investment property.

How To Get The Most Maui Home For Your Money

Maui real estate

A buyer’s market is when there are more properties for sale than prospective buyers, and sellers are more willing to go with a low bid. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a new home in a seller’s market, when there are more buyers than homes, and sellers can afford to hold out for higher offers. Here are some things to think about when home shopping in a seller’s market.

Search Early

Buying a house in a seller’s market requires diligence, which means you need to start researching even before you attend open houses. Since homes in Maui are priced to sell, you need to know what you want, how much you can spend and what things aren’t negotiable. Make the most of your time by obtaining information about the house you’re interested in. Look for any disclosures on the property, property reports and how long you have to make an offer. If you’re not sure where to start, Maui real estate professionals can help you. Real estate professionals can help you locate different homes that suit both your style and budget. They can also help you with the process of making an offer. The key is providing as much detailed information as possible prior to getting started.

Quality Purchase Offer

After you have found a home you’re interested in, it’s time to put in your offer. Make sure to research what homes in the same area have sold for prior to making an offer. You should also ask if the seller is offering concessions. Concessions are extras that some sellers offer to offset the selling price. However, try not to request concessions at first. If the seller is working with a real estate agent, they’ll already have that information. If you’re working with an agent, they can fill you in prior to meeting with the seller.

Prequalify

You should get prequalified before touring homes. The last thing you want is to find your dream home but not able to secure a mortgage. Being prequalified will help you better narrow your search and exclude any homes that are out of your price range. It also shows the seller that you’re serious about buying.

Escalation Clause

Escalation clauses state that you’ll pay a certain amount above the highest bid up to the maximum offer. It’s important to know that some sellers may make a counteroffer to your escalation as well. This means they may actually increase the listing price and ask for more money. While choosing to accept the offer is up to you, it’s always better to sleep on it and, if necessary, contact a real estate attorney for further advice.

Tips for Maui Homebuyers to Make a Competitive Offer

Maui home buying
Today’s market has high buyer interest and low inventory. With so many buyers competing for a limited number of homes, it’s more important than ever to know how to submit a confident and competitive offer. Here are a few tips for this important stage in the homebuying process.

Trust Your Real Estate Agent

Making an offer on a home in today’s market can become emotional for buyers, that’s why trusted professionals can help you stay focused on the most important things. Remember to let your homebuying team guide you on your journey, not your emotions. Their support and expertise will keep you from compromising on your must-haves and future financial stability. Your Maui real estate professional should be your primary source for answers to the questions you have when you’re ready to make an offer.

Have Your Finances In Order

Having a complete understanding of your budget and how much house you can afford is essential. The best way to know this is to reach out to your lender to get pre-approved for a loan early in the homebuying process. It shows sellers you’re a serious, qualified buyer and can give you a competitive edge if you enter a bidding war.

Take Action Quickly

The average property being sold today is receiving multiple offers and is only on the market for a few weeks. These are both results of today’s competitive market, showing how important it is to stay agile and vigilant in your search. As soon as you find the right home for your needs, be prepared to work with your agent to submit an offer as quickly as possible.

Don’t Try To Low Ball

It’s only natural to want the best deal you can get on a home. However, submitting an offer that’s too low can lead sellers to doubt how serious you are as a buyer. Don’t submit an offer that will be tossed out as soon as it’s received. The expertise your agent brings to this part of the process will help you stay competitive.

Be Flexible

After submitting an offer, the seller may accept it, reject it, or counter it with their own changes. In a competitive market, it’s important to stay nimble throughout the negotiation process. Your position can be strengthened with an offer that includes flexible move-in dates, a higher price, or minimal contingencies (conditions you set that the seller must meet for the purchase to be finalized).

Renting Vs. Buying in Maui

Maui home buying
With today’s low mortgage rates, there’s great opportunity for current Maui renters to make a move into homeownership that stretches each dollar a little bit further. While the best timeline to buy a home is different for everyone, the question remains: Should I continue renting or is it time for me to buy? The answer depends on your current situation and your future plans, so here are some thoughts to help you decide if you’re ready to own a home of your own.

Rents Are Increasing

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median rent continues to rise. This is one of the top reasons why renters decide to move, because in most cases, rent will continue increasing each year. When you own a home, you’ll lock in your monthly payment for the life of your loan, creating consistency and predictability in your payments.

Freedom to Personalize

This is a big decision making point for many people who want to be able to paint, renovate, and make home upgrades. In many cases, landlords determine all of these selections and prefer you do not alter them as a renter. As a homeowner, you have the freedom to decorate and personalize your home to truly make it your own.

Privacy

When renting, your landlord has access to your space in case of an emergency. If you own your home, however, you’re the one to decide who can come inside. Given today’s health concerns around the pandemic, this may be a growing priority for you.

Flexibility

If you’re renting in Maui, it may be easier to move quickly should you have a job transfer or simply decide it’s time for a change. When you’re a homeowner and need to sell your house, this might take a little more time. Today, however, with the housing market’s low inventory, this may no longer be the case. Homes are selling at a record-breaking pace, so you may have more flexibility than you think.

Equity Building

When you pay your rent, your landlord earns the equity the property gains. If you own your home, the benefits of your investment go directly toward your net worth. This is savings you’ll be able to use in the future for things like sending children to college, starting a new business, buying a bigger home, or simply downsizing to save for retirement.

Tax Advantages

When you own your home, there are additional advantages that work in your favor as well. You can deduct things like your property taxes and mortgage interest (Always make sure you check with your accountant to see which tax-deductible benefits apply to your situation). When you rent, however, the tax benefits are directed to your landlord.

Thinking About Selling This Winter?

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If you’re thinking about moving, selling your Maui house this winter might be the way to go. Here are four market trends that you should take note of when making your decision.

Buyers Are Active

It’s clear that buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase – and they’re in the market right now. In many regions of the country, multiple buyers are entering bidding wars to compete for the home they want. Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market so you can sell your house in the most favorable terms.

Supply Is Low

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently announced that there were only 1.49 million units available for sale. That number was down 18.6% from the same time one year ago. This means in the majority of the country, there aren’t enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Due to the health crisis, many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes earlier this year. That will change as the economy continues to recover. The choices buyers have will increase going into the new year. Don’t wait until additional sellers come to market before you decide to make a move.

Transactions Are Closing Quickly

Today’s ultra-competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to a recent report from Ellie Mae, the time needed to close a loan is just 49 days.

Housing Needs Have Changed

You’ve likely spent much of the last six months in your current Maui home. Perhaps you now realize how small it is, and you need more space. If you’re working from home, your children are doing virtual school, or you just need more room, your current floor plan may not work for your family’s changing needs.

Home Buying In A Competitive Market

Maui real estate
With so few houses for sale today and low mortgage rates driving buyer activity, bidding wars are becoming more common. Multiple-offer scenarios are heating up, so it’s important to get pre-approved before you start your search. This way, you can put your best foot forward – quickly and efficiently – if you’re planning to buy a home in Maui.

Get Prepared

A recent survey shows that only 52% of active homebuyers obtained a pre-approval letter before they began their home search. That means about half of active buyers missed out on this key part of the process. Buyers who are pre-approved are definitely a step ahead when it’s time to make an offer. Having a pre-approval letter indicating you’re a qualified buyer shows sellers you’re serious. It’s often a deciding factor that can tip the scale in your direction if there’s more than one offer on a home.

Don’t Lowball

In a highly competitive market, it’s common for sellers to pick a date and time to review all offers on a house at one time. If this is the case, you may not have an opportunity to negotiate back and forth with the sellers. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes: “Not only are properties selling quickly, but they are also getting more offers. On average, REALTORS® reported nearly three offers per sold property in July 2020.” Make sure the offer you’re presenting is the best one the sellers receive.

Be Quick

With existing homes going like hotcakes, there’s no time to waste in the process. NAR reports how the speed of home sales is ramping up: “Properties typically remained on the market for 22 days in July, seasonally down from 24 days in June and from 29 days in July 2019. Sixty-eight percent of homes sold in July 2020 were on the market for less than a month.” As you can see, the market is gaining steam. You may not have time to sleep on it or shop around when you find a home you love. Chances are, someone else loves it too. If you take your time, it may not be available when you’re ready to commit.

Existing Home or New Construction?

Maui real estate
Finding the perfect Maui home to purchase is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.

New Construction in Maui

When buying a new home in Maui, you can often choose more energy-efficient options. New appliances, new windows, a new roof, etc. These can all help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time.

Lower maintenance that comes with a newer home is another great benefit. When you have a new home, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. With new construction, you’ll also have warranty options that may cover portions of your investment for the first few years.

Another solid benefit to new construction is customization. Do you want a mudroom, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, an office, or a multipurpose room to homeschool your children? These items can be customized to your specific needs during the design phase. With an existing home, you’re buying something that’s already completed, so if you want to make changes, you may need to hire a contractor to perform the work.

Existing Home in Maui

When buying an existing home in Maui, you can negotiate with the current homeowner on price, which is something you generally don’t get to do with a builder. Builders know their material and construction costs, and they have a price set for the model you’re buying. So, if you want to negotiate, then maybe an existing home will be best.

For many families, having an established neighborhood is also important. Some buyers like to know the neighbors, if it’s family-friendly, and traffic patterns before making a commitment. When you buy new construction, you won’t have a full view of some of those details until the lots around you are sold.

Finally, timing comes into play. With an existing home, you can move in based on the timeline you agree to with the sellers. With new construction, you need to wait for the house to be built. Depending on the time of the year you’re buying and the region you’re in, the weather can also be a factor in the timeframe. This is something really important to keep in mind, especially if you need to move sooner rather than later.